Customer service never ends: Stephen Pead at #CBAAConf

“Too many sponsors are being lost,” radioinfo columnist Stephen Pead told the CBAA Conference.

Media businesses are losing 20-30% of customers each year due to three main factors: Lack of service, no Return on Investment, and unmet expectations of clients.

In his conference session Pead discussed some points to help stations satisfy their customers better:


“You must find the right sponsor for your radio station, then keep them, and grow them,” he said.

What are the attributes of the RIGHT sponsor?

  • They fit the radio station,
  • They have a budget and are willing to pay the bills
  • You enjoy working with them
  • They listen to your advice
  • Their product category works on radio
  • They are keen to learn more about your station
  • Will provide references

Where do you find the sponsors?  

“Don’t just do cold calling, do warm calling,” he said.

Warm calling is people who already know you or your radio station, such as local businesses that provide things to you – the phone company, your local cafe, people associated with your volunteers, and other people you have done business with. These are warm calls – you don’t have to explain who you are, they already know that before you start talking to them.

Another important way to find businesses with like minds is through networking events – chambers of commerce, sporting groups, etc. “Get out there and shake hands, kiss babies, talk business!”

Lost Sponsors

Sponsors go away because a station doesn’t deliver on its promises and they can’t see a return on investment.

“It takes more effort to find a new sponsor than to keep the ones you have, so put more effort into the sponsorship relationship. Follow up, find out if they had a good or bad experience, if there was a problem, fix it.

“Your best prospects are current active advertisers. Make sure they are satisfied,” said Pead.

To qualify a prospect Pead says you must find the MAN  – that stands for ‘Money, Authority, Need.’

“Do they have the money, do they have the authority to spend that money, do they have a need to advertise?”

Here are some useful questions for qualifying customers:

Could you please tell me about your advertising budget.
On average how much would you spend on advertising?
Apart from yourself, who else makes marketing decisions?
Could you describe what problems you face when you put together advertising?
Many businesses have growth plans, how about you?


Talk to them in a face to face meeting. Have a discussion and tell stories rather than trying to sell. Stories are more important than statistics, so tell stories about satisfied sponsors and how their businesses benefitted from sponsoring the station.

Another important point to make sure your sponsors are satisfied is to agree on the expectations of the advertising at the time of the booking. “When a sponsor parts with money they have some kind of an expectation. Make sure you know what that is and that it is achievable.”

Key questions that will help you understand the client’s expectations are:

Can you tell me how you create enquiries for your business?
What is important when advertising your business?
What makes your business really different
Give enough information to confirm in their mind that they have made a good business decision.


Strategic planning

In a later session about Strategic Planning, Troy Sincock from Fresh FM presented its process for developing a strategic plan. Some key tips from the presentation were about how to involve your stakeholders in the strategic plan. The station enlisted an independent consultant to ensure the process was not biassed by a vocal minority and then made sure that everyone was involved.

“Understand what everyone’s position is on the plan and after that then proceed.”

To make a strategic plan you need to consult all stakeholders, but that can be a time consuming operation. How did Fresh FM solve that?

“We did two focus groups of 20 people each, which were reflective of all the opinions of people at the station. Everyone needs to have a voice in the process, but the process has to be efficient.

“If you weren’t part of a focus group we also had a survey to be able to gather the views of everyone who wanted to have a say.

“We also talked to our sponsors, the CBAA, the SA Government, Adelaide City Council, ARTS South Australia. Through those conversations we realised what was important to those external organisations and where there would be funding sources in future.”

“We wanted to build the strategic plan from real and comprehensive information and make it a living document that is meaningful for all our stakeholders.”


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